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Trip to Israel

I will be bringing my family to Israel this summer for our first visit ever. Needless to say we are very excited. We want to have the maximum experience in the 10 days we have available. What would you recommend for us?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Thank you for writing. Unfortunately, a mistake many people make when visiting Israel is to spend all their time seeing the "sights" – i.e. mountains, beaches, museums – but they miss out on the real heart of Israel which is the Torah learning which takes place here. As it says: "For out of Zion shall the Torah come forth, and the word of God from Jerusalem." (Isaiah 2:3)

I recommend you set aside time to attend the Discovery seminar, an excellent presentation of Jewish history and philosophy. Modules include: "7 Wonders of Jewish History," "Genesis & the Big Bang" (with MIT nuclear physicist Dr. Gerald Schroeder), and "Computer Bible Codes." The seminar is held on Sundays, from 9:30 am – 6:30 pm, in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem (info at www.aish.com/dis/). You may be able to drop in for some classes at Aish's Essentials program – http://israel.aish.com/essentials/.

Here are some ideas of what to do in Jerusalem:

Western Wall – Schedule some quiet, meditative time at Judaism's holiest spot. For excitement and sheer beauty, the best time to be at the Wall is just before sunset on Friday, when Shabbat descends upon the holy city, and Jews from all walks of life gather to usher in the holy day.

Western Wall Tunnels – http://english.thekotel.org/

City of David – www.cityofdavid.org.il/hp_eng.asp

Aish Building – see the amazing Chihuly glass sculpture, view a scale model of the Holy Temple, and get a breathtaking rooftop view directly overlooking the Temple Mount. www.aish.com/ai/jb/

Mea She'arim – Walk through the old Orthodox section and see how the Jewish community might have looked in pre-War Europe.

Machane Yehuda outdoor vegetable market – best on Friday morning, when pre-Shabbat shopping is at a frenzy.

Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum – absolutely essential.

Jerusalem Area:

"Dig for a Day" archaeological experience – www.archesem.com

Tank Museum in Latrun – www.davidpride.com/Israeli_Armor/Armor_Main.htm

Mini-Israel – fun for the kids, see all of Israel’s sites in miniature www.minisrael.co.il

Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem

Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron

Tel Aviv area:

Blind Museum - www.d-in-dark.co.il

Palmach Museum – www.palmach.org.il

Dead Sea Area:

Masada – hike up the mountain at sunrise, or ride the cable car

Dead Sea – float in the lowest point of Earth, and enjoy the healing mineral mud.

Ein Gedi Nature Reserve – hike to the waterfalls.

Tzfat – visit the old synagogues, old cemetery, mikveh of the Arizal, and tomb of Rebbe Shimon in Meiron.

Take one afternoon and volunteer:

At a food relief agency – www.yadeliezer.org/volunteer

At an Israeli hospital – www.vfi-usa.org

At a medical services group – www.yadsarah.org/index.asp?id=72

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